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Performance Award Update 11/26/14

Message from NTEU

November 24, 2014

NTEU, IRS Reach Agreement on Payment of 2014 Awards

NTEU and the IRS have reached an agreement on the payment of 2014 performance awards. 

I have heard from many of you about how important your performance award is to you. This program is an essential part of recognizing and rewarding the hard work of employees across the IRS. Over the last few years, NTEU has fought long and hard to retain your IRS awards program. This agreement ensures that deserving employees will receive their awards without a protracted delay. I believe this is a positive development given the budget pressures and the uncertain environment we face.

In 2013, the IRS initially moved to eliminate all funding for the NTEU awards program based on a sequester-related budget cut of $618 million in the last seven months of the fiscal year. We fought that decision and ultimately entered into a settlement on January 30, 2014, which funded the awards pool at about 1 percent of total salaries. Those awards were paid in April.

This year, NTEU’s dispute with the IRS over the payment of 2014 awards centered on the amount of the awards pool and when the awards would be paid out. The IRS has the right to propose changes, then NTEU has the right to bargain over those changes. After extensive negotiations, we have reached an agreement which provides for a pool funded at about 1 percent of salaries and an agreement on how we will handle next year’s 2015 performance awards. Payments for 2014 awards are to be made by March 19, 2015.  NTEU’s goal was to protect future award payments and get them back on a timetable in which employees are receiving awards before the end of the calendar year, ending the uncertainty. In that regard, the agreement provides for fiscal year 2015 awards to be paid during the first quarter of fiscal year 2016. The agreement also provides for parity in the percentage of awards pools for frontline employees and managers.

In addition, the agreement requires the payment of bilingual awards, and settles national grievances over delays in processing QSIs and the denial of Time Off Awards (TOAs). 

Under the agreement, the IRS will reopen the window for employees to make a new election regarding TOAs,through close of business on December 10, 2014. Employees may change their election in writing or by email. TOAs that employees elect in either fiscal year 14 or fiscal year 15 will be valid for twelve months “from the effective date of the award,” and will run consecutively to any existing TOA that has not been used.

In these negotiations, NTEU and the bargaining team had to make some very hard choices.  We believe in this program and are committed to keeping it in place. We wanted to ensure that our members are rewarded for their hard work and strong performance.

In addition, the agreement clarifies language in the contract to address the issue of conduct and awards. For some time, the NTEU contract included language that would permit the agency to withhold an award if the employee is the subject of a conduct investigation or had been subject to a disciplinary action and withholding the award would be “necessary to protect the integrity of the Service.” We have clarified that, beginning with the FY 2014 performance year, if there is a final agency determination of a Section 1203(b) violation, the employee will not be eligible for a performance award in that year. The employee continues to have the right to challenge any 1203 determination. 

While I believe employees deserve the full amount provided for in the original NTEU agreement, I recognize that management has the right to make changes based on budgetary factors. This agreement ensures employees will receive their 2014 awards despite the uncertain budget environment, locks in a timetable for the payment of awards and avoids a protracted legal fight.

Commissioner John Koskinen recognized that IRS employees earned this money, and I appreciate his efforts to work with NTEU on an agreement that retains the integrity and spirit of the program while recognizing the tough fiscal environment.

We will update you as soon as specifics are available about payment of awards. Please see your NTEU representative for more information or with questions. 

Thank you for supporting NTEU. And, as always, thank you for your outstanding service to America.


Colleen M. Kelley

Colleen M. Kelley
National President

“ ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect.”

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